Let’s be honest: the Internet is littered with content that was created for content’s sake. Over the years, we’ve seen our share of companies that created webpages, blog posts, and more simply to keep up with their competitors, or to create an online foothold since they felt so far behind. Unfortunately, creating content that doesn’t solve a customers’ specific problem—or encourage them to take specific action—is no different that screaming into a void and expecting to receive a response.
Now businesses have gotten smarter about their online content, and, in many ways, have fallen back on the one thing that hasn’t changed from the days of traditional marketing campaigns: you have to know your audience. The aspect that has changed is how people approach your business. That sea of content we mentioned? Your customers are more than willing to swim through it. They’ll conduct their own research, but their buying power is directly related to finding high-quality content that is relevant, engaging, and authentic.
By viewing your website’s content as a critical cog in the wheel of your sales funnel, you can convert website visitors into loyal customers. We help our clients do this all the time, whether they’ve been writing content for years or are just typing up their first blog post. Thanks to our experience, we’ve pulled together a list of website engagement ideas that will help you create those coveted conversions.
1. Internally, Ensure You’re On the Same Page
Nothing derails a content strategy more than not having your entire team on the same page. So you need every key decision-maker on board with your content strategy to ensure you’re not changing course mid-way through a campaign, or halfway through a site overhaul. A good place to start is with the benefits, and often using sales-oriented language puts leaders at ease; for example, explaining that you’re working on a content strategy to reach customers earlier in the buying process shows that you’re serious about producing content that will have a direct—and measurable—impact on the company’s bottom line.
2. Use the Expertise You Have In-House
While you want to have your leaders on board, having other employees in your corner can help, too. While you want them to buy in on the idea that high-quality content can lead to more sales, you also want them to have a hand in creating the content. Your employees are an incredible resource. Where else can you find better subject matter experts for your business (especially if the content is extremely technical)? Whether they become writers themselves or work in concert to provide expertise to your marketing team or writer, they need to be part of the content engagement strategy
3. If You Can’t Go It Alone, Find the Right Partner
From a capacity standpoint, there is great variance from company to company on who handles the marketing. While some businesses are fortunate enough to have a full-fledged marketing staff that includes writers, many don’t. Whether you partner with a full-service digital marketing agency like us, or work with freelancers, finding the right partners can go a long way toward increasing user engagement through your content. Even companies with large marketing staffs work with content contractors, just to find the right balance of voice and technical info. Of course, the key benefit of working with a full-service agency is that they’ll handle all of the heavy lifting as it relates to your website’s content.
Most companies have brand standards for design. However, we often find they don’t have standards for their content, which starts with the brand voice. Often the biggest difference from company to company is how technical the content needs to be, but that shouldn’t stop you from wanting to find your own unique voice, one that strikes a balance between being approachable and professional. Using first person is a great way to speak directly to your customers, and to earn their trust. And whether you’re using one writer for all your content, or using multiple (in-house or beyond), you want that voice to be consistent across your website.
Sure, this is a post about content, but content and design go hand-in-hand as part of the user experience. You could have the best content in your industry, but it won’t matter if the visitors arrive to your site and can’t find it. Of course, UX goes beyond just your site’s layout; design should factor into how you present information, too. From product tables to content boxes, from videos to infographics, and from charts to maps, vary your content so that your readers don’t get bored too easily—because if they do, they’ll be heading elsewhere.
6. Take the Time to Create Killer Calls-to-Action
This is technically speaking to design again, but calls-to-action are so important we wanted them to have their very own section. This goes back to what we stated in the intro about encouraging your customers to take specific action. By using the right placement and language for your CTAs—whether they’re buttons or banners—you can prompt site visitors to provide all kinds of information that will help them become customers. As the old adage goes: if you don’t ask for the business, you’ll never get it.
7. Keep Your Content As Skimmable As Possible
Yet another aspect of the user experience, the way you structure your content is a critical aspect of engaging your site visitors. As we mentioned, if readers get bored, they’re gone. That means a long online tome is going to be a turn-off. By making your content skimmable, you’ll keep readers engaged. Avoid overly long paragraphs, and use informative headers that summarize those brief sections. You should also be sure to state what a reader is going to learn right away in the opening—they found you, so you want to make sure, as soon as possible, that they know they’ve come to the right place.
You’ll never know what prompts people to action without extensive A/B testing. It’s one of the simplest ways to see what’s getting the most clicks on your pages, and provides insight into your customers’ behaviors. From defining your success metrics to testing specific words in calls to action, A/B testing delivers valuable insight without you having to lift a finger to create new content. And, once you know what works, you can use the previous tips around site design and CTAs to increase user engagement and conversions—especially on your highest-performing pages.
In the end, there are a variety of different website engagement ideas; what works best is dependent on your specific business, and the resources you have at hand. By using some of these tips, you can get a successful content engagement strategy off the ground, and ensure that it’s sustainable for years to come.
The most successful websites understand that while they’re a selling platform, they also need to be a valuable resource for their customers. Never forget that when your customers are looking for you, whether they’re sitting at a laptop or typing on their phone, their search starts with a question. No matter your product or service, to be successful online your content needs to do the best job possible of providing them with the answer.